Posted by: softypapa | December 27, 2007

Kokeshi Japanese Wooden Doll Girls Day Ningyo Figurine

Kokeshi Japanese Wooden Doll Girls Day Ningyo Figurine Japan Tokaido Softypapa

Kokeshi Japanese Wooden Doll Girls Day Ningyo Figurine Japan Tokaido Softypapa

Kokeshi Japanese Wooden Doll Girls Day Ningyo Figurine Japan Tokaido Softypapa 


Lovely Japanese wooden kokeshi doll set designed to resemble a traditional Japanese Girl’s Day doll display.  Girl’s Day dolls are traditionally given to young Japanese girls to arrange and display in the family home in the days leading up to the March 3rd celebration of Girl’s Day, which is a traditional Japanese holiday dedicated to little girls throughout the country.  Please read below to learn more about this very old and special Japanese tradition.

About the Listed Item

This interesting doll is less than 40 years old and is in good condition with only small marks and scratches from handling.  Please read below to learn about the history of kokeshi dolls, one of Japan’s most unique and distinctive folk crafts.

Height of display (including base): 2.7 inches (6.8 centimeters)
Width of display (measured at base): 5.3 inches (13.5 centimeters)
Height of dolls : 2.0 inches (5.0 centimeters)
Weight (combined of all items): 1.6 ounces (47 grams)

Important note:
Images of the
kokeshi we list are often uploaded to our Japan Vintage Kokeshi Blog which is an on-line gallery of unique and interesting kokeshi dolls.  The purpose of this blog is strictly to share images of some of the wonderful dolls we encounter in the course of our work, and to provide a digital archive to preserve these images into the future.  If you purchase a kokeshi from us and do not want a digital copy of your doll displayed in the photo blog or archive then please simply send us an email indicating your preference and we will promptly remove the image.

Click here to see more kokeshi!
here to see other Girl’s Day items!
here to see more Japanese dolls!
here to see additional treasures from Japan!

More about Girl’s Day

Sometime during the long Japanese Edo period (1600-1868) households with young girls began to set out attractive displays of dolls around the middle of February.  The dolls were usually kept on display until March 3rd which eventually came to be known as “Girls Day” or hina matsuri as it is called in Japanese.  This special day is also sometimes referred to as momo no sekku which means “Festival of the Peach” due to the fact that beautiful pink peach blossoms are often placed among the dolls on display.  Girl’s Day dolls are nearly always seen wearing the courtly robes of Heian period (794-1185) nobility.  And the dolls are frequently arranged on platforms consisting of between 5 and 7 tiers covered with red felt.  Though single-tier displays consisting of one male and one female doll are also quite common (especially in cramped modern apartments).  Young Japanese girls (such as our little Emily) often enjoy spending hours assembling and arranging their dolls and accessories according to very old rules of display (Internet websites help many modern Japanese parents learn the rules).  However, though the dolls may remain on display for many weeks leading up to March 3rd, tradition holds that the dolls must be put away promptly after this date in order to ensure a young girl’s future happiness with a home and family of her own.  A similar holiday for boys is the May 5th celebration of Boy’s Day.  In recent times, Boy’s Day has come to be known as “Children’s Day.”

More about Kokeshi

Kokeshi wooden dolls are one of the most unique and interesting of Japan’s many traditional folk crafts.  Originating in the early 19th century in the northern spa towns of Miyagi prefecture, kokeshi are thought to have first been produced as toys for children from leftover bits of scrap wood.  These early dolls were made by craftsmen who earned their living producing other types of woodcraft, but who eventually began to create kokeshi to be sold as souvenirs in the area’s many local hot spring resorts.  Over time the craft was refined, with many regional varieties appearing reflecting a wide range of technical and artistic variation.  Today there are several schools of kokeshi design led by master craftsmen who often pass their trade to succeeding generations within their own family.

When collecting kokeshi it is important to note that you will likely encounter two main types; dolls which are made by artists and those which are mass-produced to be sold as souvenirs.  The former are usually one-of-a-kind originals created by dedicated artisans who take their work very seriously and place great emphasis on traditional design and appearance.  The other type of kokeshi are those which are manufactured specifically to be sold as souvenirs of famous or interesting places such as resorts or hot springs.  These are produced en-mass, and while often attractive and interesting memorabilia they are not as frequently sought after by collectors and usually command a lower selling price.  How can you determine if a kokeshi is an ‘artist’ or ‘craftsman’ style doll?  This is actually quite easy as artist dolls are normally signed (on the bottom) by the maker, and may have no other writing on the body of the doll besides decorative calligraphy.  Souvenir types on the other hand are normally unsigned and may have the name of the place which sold them conspicuously visible on the body of the doll.  Collectors of Kokeshi typically place special emphasis on the facial quality of the dolls, desiring certain types – gentle or mischievous for example – over others.  One interesting Japanese Kokeshi collector we previously met expressed a preference for newer dolls over older ones, fearing the older dolls may be haunted.

item code: R4S4-0003686
ship code: L1650

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